WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), President of The Lugar Center and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following joint statement Thursday after the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced the United States would withdraw from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as an implementing country. The Department falsely claims it cannot implement EITI, a global standard to promote open and accountable management of oil and gas mineral resources, because the voluntary initiative contravenes U.S. law:
“The Department’s justification for withdrawing from EITI — because the initiative contravenes the U.S. legal framework — is a front meant to mask Big Oil and Gas’ money and influence, the real reason fueling this sad day in the movement toward greater global sunlight and transparency in extractive industries. There is no U.S. law that prevents oil, gas or mining companies from voluntarily disclosing their federal tax payments to the American people. The Trump Administration’s move today is a painful abdication of American leadership on transparency and good governance.
“When the United States entered into the EITI in 2011, it was a watershed moment for American leadership on transparency and accountability measures. U.S. participation was both bipartisan and welcomed by private industry and civil society. It demonstrates that Americans ‘walk the talk’ of good governance. What will those countries, or countries planning to join say now at this American retreat from transparency and accountability? Such a retreat is a retreat from our values, which give America its strength and its moral leadership in the world.
“We will continue to champion transparency and accountability in the oil and gas extractive industries while also working to expose and eradicate the endemic corruption that keeps too many millions of innocent people trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and underdevelopment worldwide.”
Senators Cardin and Lugar were the authors of The Energy Security Through Transparency (ESTT) Act, which included language to encourage the United States to become an implementing country of the EITI and committed the Department of Interior to disclosing extractive payments received for resources derived from federal lands. The bill also included a provision instructing the Securities and Exchange Commission to promulgate a rule for domestic and foreign extractive industry companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges to publish the payments they make to foreign governments as the price to operate in their countries. The latter section of the bill later became Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. Though law, the provision continues to face challenges from the Trump Administration, Big Oil and Congressional Republicans. Cardin is also the author of Combatting Global Corruption and Ensuring Accountability Act of 2017.